The web is good at finding voice and community and doing it with great speed. So of course Tumblr creative strategist Amber Gordon could launch Femsplain in October and the next month have a launch party at Livestream Public, the front-facing first floor of the Bushwick tech company’s headquarters.
Femsplain is an online storytelling community that brings female-identified content creators together. It’s a passion project among friends, edited by Gabriela Barkho and Samantha Blinde, with help from Dianna McDougall and Christina Lu.
Many contributors live in Brooklyn, but the team is spread throughout the region — Gordon lives in Chelsea and, for example, Blinde lives in Delaware — and there is a distinctly Brooklyn creative energy in the product.
Gordon, 24, a self-taught front-end web developer, wanted to provide a platform for friends to share stories with one other. Gordon joked about wanting to call the project “Sad Drunk Girls,” at one point. She said she believes in women helping each other out and wanted to provide a safe and creative space for that.
Contributors — casual, featured and aspiring — gathered at Livestream on Friday to do live readings of their pieces, some of which are published on the site. Highlights included featured contributor Veronica de Souza speaking about sexual harassment at work, Leah Blowes recounted her ex-lovers through the settings of various Taylor Swift albums and Annalise Domenighini talked about pop punk as the soundtrack to her upbringing while making a game out of it: “Take a drink every time I recite the lyrics.”
Kirsten Wagstaff, a social media coordinator, Femsplain supporter and NYC transplant by way of New Zealand, expressed that many publications in the U.S. are very male-oriented. Femsplain is different because it feels like “a bunch of fan girls supporting one another.”
Wagstaff also emphasizes that “there is no hate, no misandry. Everyone is very supportive.”
It’s exactly what relatively small, focused web communities are good at creating.
Other fem-powered publications that exist, like Rookie, are great for a younger audience, Wagstaff said, but Femsplain can fill a void for a certain slice of 20-something, female-identified readers. (We think also of Brooklyn-based satirical women’s magazine Reductress) The Femsplain community feels like “Everyone is hanging out in the same mall.”
Femsplain is structured around monthly themed topics — November’s theme is Firsts. When contributions are open, you can submit here. And new forms of storytelling are welcome — “a story, art, email conversation, a text message screenshot — really, anything.”